Well, we are finally here. Finally at the third game of the recently re-released Shadowrun Trilogy, and the developers, Harebrained Schemes have clearly been building up to this one, based purely on the length of the title. The snappily named Shadowrun: Hong Kong – Extended Edition was first released to the PC master race way back in August 2015, and now has been unleashed on the unsuspecting Xbox crowd. Or, if they have been playing the rest of the trilogy like I have, the totally ready for it Xbox crowd. But is it a case of saving the best till last, or is this the difficult third album? Let’s take to the mean streets of Hong Kong and find out.
In a departure from the previous games, the character that you play – whatever race or class you choose that to be (the choices are the same as the previous games, so no shocks here, and I went for an orc decker) – has an existing relationship with the other characters that you meet. There was always a tenuous connection in the two previous games in the Trilogy – Shadowrun Returns and Shadowrun: Dragonfall – Director’s Cut – but here you meet your “brother” Duncan, a Lone star cop, before you are both summoned to Hong Kong at the behest of the man who took the pair of you off the streets and pretty much adopted you. This man is named Raymond, and when we get to Hong Kong, we are immediately set upon by the police and framed for being terrorists, subsersives and probably also for jaywalking, they really throw the book at us.
From the word go, expect action and lots of it, which is okay in my book, as long as the story is strong enough to keep me playing. Have no worries there, I’d go so far as to say that this story is the best of those found in the Shadowrun Trilogy; even if it is a pretty close run thing. No spoilers here, however.
For a game that was released a while after the others, the developers have kept the presentation pretty much the same, working on the basis that if it isn’t broken, it doesn’t need mending. I am glad that they have addressed my one real outstanding niggle with the previous games though and in running about the place – when not in combat – things are a lot smoother, with a lot less random hangups on the scenery to report. The rest of the presentation is the same as before, although with Shadowrun: Hong Kong being set in (shock, horror) Hong Kong, the game has a shinier, more neon feel. It actually feels like we are in the future.
The music is another highlight – kind of futuristic but with an Asian twist that gives the soundtrack a whole new feel.
Now, you may be wondering where the Extended Edition tag comes in to Shadowrun: Hong Kong. You see, the extended edition of the base game has another campaign bundled with it, which takes place after finishing the first campaign. Called Shadows of Hong Kong, it isn’t massive, running to roughly an extra six hours, but what it is properly challenging. The rest of the enhancements for this edition are integrated into the actual gameplay, including new skill trees for Cyberware, and rebuilt ways to handle items in the middle of the missions, along with other little tweaks designed to make the ultimate shadowrun experience. I’d say that mission is most definitely accomplished.
The rest of Shadowrun: Hong Kong will be familiar to anyone who has played any of the other Shadowrun games, or even any other turn based tactical RPG ever in their lives. When not in combat, your team can run about freely, interacting with various objects in the landscape and visiting vendors to get strapped ready for the upcoming missions, and also just run about shooting the breeze with random NPCs. When combat is initiated however, it’s a whole different ball game.
In common with a host of other games in this genre, you choose what your team does. Do you want to play it safe, and get everyone in widely separated cover before opening fire? There is nothing worse than a grenade coming out of nowhere and hitting half the team, and given that the enemies here love their grenades, bunching up in the same cover is a really bad idea. Standing in the open and blazing away is also equally problematic, as you will end up with more holes than a Swiss cheese.
Anyway, whichever way you decide to play it, you have a certain number of AP to spend when it is your turn. Moving takes one AP, as does shooting or reloading your weapon, and basically you have to use your moves wisely to get into an advantageous position and take the enemies out. There is no quarter given: the only way to win is to kill everything that ever thought about hurting the team. To be honest, after three of these games in a row I’m finding it hard to say anything new about the combat side, as it is very much evolution, not revolution with Hong Kong.
All in all, the story and the characters are what will keep dragging you back to Shadowrun: Hong Kong – Extended Edition; you’ll want to see what happens to the team. Thankfully the gameplay is as solid as ever, but improved traversal makes things easier, and that ensures this is the best of those available in the Shadowrun Trilogy.
I’d say that the whole trilogy is a no-brainer, especially if you like story driven games, but in all you could do a lot worse than to take Shadowrun: Hong Kong – Extended Edition for a spin.
Shadowrun: Hong Kong – Extended Edition is available from the Xbox Store